A fourth quarter rally was not enough for the Sunderland Spartans as they were defeated 16-6 by the Manchester Tyrants in wet and windy conditions yesterday.

The game was a tale of two halves, as the Spartans struggled initially to get a foothold in the game, soon finding themselves two scores down to a home team who, this season, find themselves in the division below.

But as the game went on, the Spartans gradually began to flex their muscles, picking off the home teams quarterback towards the end of the second quarter.

Whatever the Spartans coaching team said to their players at half-time must have had an impact as in the third quarter, the Spartans defence began to turn the screw on the Tyrants, picking their quarterback off twice in quick succession.

On the offensive side of the ball, head coach Pete Nichol had to wait late into the fourth quarter for his team to show what they could do, with Spartans quarterback Trevor Hill throwing a deep downfield pass to wide-receiver Jonny Grey.

The big play put Sunderland in the redzone, then on 4th & goal, QB Hill connected again for the touchdown. However, the Spartans were unable to convert the two-point attempt.

After the game, Spartans defensive line coach Sean Curtin felt there were both positives and negatives to take out of their loss.

“There were things that we did well today and there were things we didn’t do so well. I liked the way we competed against a strong team but there were still parts where we need to get stronger.”

“This is what pre-season is all about though, finding where we need to improve and then improving.”

Coach Curtis also felt there were other elements which might have influenced the overall result.

“I noticed that during warm up, several of their players had Manchester Titans helmets on, who are a highly successful adult team so I knew today was going to be a challenge.

“They play during the summer and universities play during the winter so I am not surprised that some of their players are of a very good standard.

“Having said that, I felt we competed well today against this strong team. I feel that by the time the regular season begins, we will be ready to go.”

Sunderland now have another week to prepare, before their regular season opener at home against Glasgow Tigers on November 5.